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Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Serbia, Montenegro & Kosovo

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025

Republic of Serbia

Milosevic-era mismanagement of the economy, an extended period of international economic sanctions, and the damage to Yugoslavia's infrastructure and industry during the NATO airstrikes in 1999 left the economy only half the size it was in 1990.

Belgrade has made progress in trade liberalization and enterprise restructuring and privatization, including telecommunications and small- and medium-size firms. It has made halting progress towards EU membership despite signing a Stabilization and Association Agreement with Brussels in May 2008. Serbia is also pursuing membership in the World Trade Organization. Unemployment and the large current account deficit remain ongoing political and economic problems.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Description: Serbia



Republic of Montenegro

The dissolution of the loose political union between Serbia and Montenegro in 2006 led to separate membership in several international financial institutions, such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Unemployment and regional disparities in development are key political and economic problems. Montenegro has privatized its large aluminum complex - the dominant industry - as well as most of its financial sector, and has begun to attract foreign direct investment in the tourism sector. The global financial crisis is likely to have a significant negative impact on the economy.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Description: Montenegro


Republic of Kosovo

Kosovo's citizens are the poorest in Europe with an average annual per capita income of only $2,300. Unemployment, around 40% of the population, is a significant problem that encourages outward migration and black market activity. Most of Kosovo's population lives in rural towns outside of the capital, Pristina. Inefficient, near-subsistence farming is common - the result of small plots, limited mechanization, and lack of technical expertise.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Description: Kosovo

Serbia is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and girls trafficked internationally and within the country for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor … Children, mostly Roma, continued to be trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation, forced marriage, or forced street begging. The majority of identified victims in 2008 were Serbian women and girls trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation; over half were children. There was an increase in cases of trafficking for forced labor in 2008. - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check out a later country report here and possibly a full TIP Report here

Montenegro is primarily a transit country for the trafficking of women and girls from Ukraine, Moldova, Serbia, Albania, and Kosovo to Western Europe for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. There have been reported cases of forced labor in the construction industry. There is anecdotal evidence that foreign children, mainly Roma, are also trafficked through Montenegro for the purpose of forced begging. - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check out a later country report here and possibly a full TIP Report here

Kosovo is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked across national borders for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Kosovo women and children are also trafficked within Kosovo for the same purpose. NGOs reported that child trafficking, particularly from Roma communities, for the purpose of forced begging, was an increasing problem. Most foreign victims are young women from Eastern Europe subjected to forced prostitution. Kosovo victims are also trafficked to countries throughout Europe including Macedonia, Italy, and Albania. Kosovo residents, including three children, made up the majority of identified trafficking victims in 2008. Police report that internal trafficking involving Kosovo Serbs may also occur in north Kosovo, a Serb-majority region that presents particular security challenges. - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check out a later country report here and possibly a full TIP Report here


CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.

HELP for Victims

SOS hotline:
11 33 47 817
Country code: 381-



Shameful Investigation Into Sex-Trafficking Case

Amnesty International, Index Number: EUR 70/001/2005, Date Published: 1 February 2005

[accessed 26 February 2015]

[accessed 16 June 2017]

The government of Montenegro must re-open as a matter of priority a high-profile sex-trafficking case in which Montenegrin politicians, judges, police and civil servants are implicated, Amnesty International said in a letter to the Minister of the Interior of Montenegro. The Moldovan woman in the centre of the case alleges that Montenegrin politicians, judges, police and civil servants had tortured and raped her and other East European women who like her had been trafficked and held as sex-slaves.

A Legal Analysis of Trafficking in Persons Cases in Kosovo [PDF]

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, The Department Of Human Rights, Decentralization, And Communities, Legal System Monitoring Section, October 2007

[accessed 28 August 2011]

[page 3] EXECUTIVE SUMMARY - The problem of trafficking in human beings (“trafficking”) continues to be a major human rights concern in Kosovo.

In cases monitored by the OSCE, victims did not receive the basic guarantees provided by law, and frequently faced prosecution or the threat of prosecution. Witness protection measures were rarely used, despite the regular intimidation of victims. Moreover, judges and prosecutors often failed to understand the legal definition of the crime of trafficking, or permit perpetrators to go unpunished.  In summary, the OSCE observed that authorities involved in the investigation and prosecution of alleged traffickers fail to adopt a victim-centred approach, or to ensure that perpetrators face justice.


*** ARCHIVES ***

Montenegrin Police Cut Human Trafficking, Slavery Chain

Zdravko Ljubas, Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project OCCRP, 10 January 2020

[accessed 11 January 2020]

Montenegrin police say they found during a raid on Thursday nearly 100 people from Taiwan confined in three villas, where they were forced to commit unspecified cyber fraud that was targeting China and Taiwan.

“During the search of those premises, we found 93 people, citizens of Taiwan, whose passports were taken away and whose movement was limited,” read the statement.

Police provided no details about the operation, but confirmed that a number of suspects “with huge amounts of money,” and a strong hierarchical structure, kept and controlled the victims. They also confirmed that some “electronic devices” were seized and will be the subject of a forensic expertise.

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021 montenegro/

[accessed 22 June 2021]


SERBIA -- Citizens of the country, particularly men, were reportedly subjected to labor trafficking in labor-intensive sectors, such as the construction industry in Russia, other European countries, and the United Arab Emirates. Penalties for violations within the country were commensurate with those for other analogous serious crimes, such as kidnapping.

A number of children, primarily from the Roma community, were forced to engage in begging, theft, domestic work, commercial sexual exploitation, and other forms of labor (see section 7.c.).

MONTENEGRO – In January police operated the “Call Center” action and reported that 93 Taiwanese persons were found and arrested in three locations in Podgorica. The investigation showed that 37 persons, of whom 25 were men and 12 were women, were victims of forced labor and received the status of trafficking in persons victims. The status of an additional 40 persons involved in the case was still unknown. The traffickers restricted the movement of their victims and used force and threats to commit fraud through the internet against persons from Asian-language areas. Montenegrin police in cooperation with Taiwanese police returned the victims and perpetrators to their country of origin, where prosecutions were ongoing.

There were reports of Romani girls forced into domestic servitude and of children forced to beg, mostly by their families (see section 7.c.). Migrants from neighboring countries were vulnerable to forced labor during the summer tourist season, although to a lesser extent during the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There were no reports of prosecutions or convictions.

KOSOVO -- The labor inspectorate reported conducting only limited investigations for forced labor offenses. Penalties, although commensurate with those for other serious crimes, were seldom applied.


SERBIA -- In villages and farming communities, underage children commonly worked in family businesses. In urban areas children, primarily Roma, worked in the informal sector as street vendors, car washers, and garbage sorters.

With regard to the worst forms of child labor, traffickers subjected children to commercial sexual exploitation, used children in the production of pornography and drugs, and sometimes forced children to beg and commit crimes. Some Romani children were forced into manual labor or begging.

MONTENEGRO – Many parents and relatives forced Romani, Ashkali, and Balkan-Egyptian children to work at an early age to contribute to their family’s income. They engaged in begging at busy intersections, on street corners, door to door, and in restaurants and cafes or in sifting through trashcans. While many working children were from the country, a large percentage of those between the ages of seven and 16 were from nearby countries, mainly Kosovo and Serbia. Police generally returned the children they apprehended to their families.

In villages, children usually worked in family businesses and agriculture. Romani, Ashkali, and Balkan-Egyptian children worked chiefly during the summer, typically washing car windows, loading trucks, collecting items such as scrap metal, selling old newspapers or car accessories, or working alongside their parents as day laborers. Many internally displaced Romani, Ashkali, and Balkan-Egyptian children were forced to engage in begging or manual labor. Police asserted that begging was a family practice rather than an organized, large-scale activity, but this claim was disputed by several NGOs. Begging was readily observable, particularly in Podgorica and the coastal areas during the summer. During a March operation dubbed “Beggar,” police identified children forced to beg and prosecuted their parents, who faced misdemeanor charges. The children were returned to their families.

KOSOVO -- Child labor occurred primarily in the informal sector. As of May, NGO Terres Des Hommes reported 116 cases of minors (105 Kosovo citizens and 11 minors from Albania) working in hazardous conditions. Of these, 73 were children engaged in begging, 13 in street work, and 14 in coal extraction.

The Coalition of NGOs for the Protection of Children reported that children working in agriculture encountered hazards from operating farm equipment. The coalition reported that child labor in farming persisted as a traditional activity. Government-run social-work centers reported children engaged in farming were primarily in the informal sector and were not prevented from attending school. While children were rarely their families’ main wage earners, child labor contributed substantially to some families’ income.

Urban children often worked in a variety of unofficial construction and retail jobs, such as selling newspapers, cigarettes, food, or telephone cards on the street. Some children, especially those from ethnic minorities or from families receiving social assistance, engaged in physical labor such as transportation of goods or in picking through trash piles for items to sell.


Freedom House Country Report

2020 Editions, if ready.  Earlier editions are posted below.

Serbia -

[accessed 6 May 2020]

Montenegro -

[accessed 6 May 2020]

Kosovo -

[accessed 6 May 2020]

Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor

[accessed 20 January 2020]

Note:: Also check out the country reports in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[Select Serbia, Montenegro, & Kosovo]

The Department of Labor's annual Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor focuses on the efforts of certain U.S. trade beneficiary countries and territories to eliminate the worst forms of child labor through legislation, enforcement mechanisms, policies and social programs.

KPS rescues 2 human trafficking victims

BETA News Agency, PRIŠTINA, 26 January 2008

[accessed 21 December 2010]

[accessed 24 February 2019]

“Thanks to cooperation from citizens, members of the anti-human trafficking unit discovered two females from Kosovo in a hotel basement on Friday, that had been locked up there against their will,” announced the Peć Regional Police.

A preliminary investigation has revealed that the two girls, who are of Albanian ethnicity, were locked up there for over two months.

Amnesty International on human rights in Serbia and Kosovo

Amnesty International, 15 February 2007

[accessed 6 May 2020]


With respect to trafficking, we urge the EU to assist the Kosovo authorities in implementing the Kosovo Action Plan on Trafficking, to ensure the protection of the rights of trafficked persons, including to assistance and other forms of support, in compliance with the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.

Over 120.000 human trafficking victims pass via Balkan a year

MakFaxOnline, Belgrade 22 December 2006

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 11 September 2011]

More than 120.000 women and children, victims of human trafficking, pass through the Balkan region per year before heading to the EU member-countries, Serbian government said.  "The number of trafficked children rose from 10 to 56 percent, and lately up to 60 percent of identified victims of human trafficking are Serbian citizens," said Serbian Minister of Labor, Employment & Social Welfare Slobodan Lalovic.

Human trafficking recovery center opens in Belgrade

B92 News, 16 September 2006

[accessed 24 June 2013]

The center's program was developed according to the demands and experiences of victims, in order to offer help to abused women and enable them to return to their normal lives and reintegrate into society.

The route to hell

Louisa Waugh, The Scotsman, 22 August 2006

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 11 September 2011]

Reports of women and girls being trafficked into Kosovo began to emerge within months of the United Nations mission in Kosovo and the NATO peacekeepers arriving in July 1999. While writing this book I travelled to Kosovo, and found it an intimidating place to research the subject of trafficking. People were guarded with information, and it is the only place I have ever been threatened by a police officer for asking questions about human trafficking - he said that he could have me detained if he wanted to.

Human trafficking in Vojvodina

BETA News Agency, 7 August 2006

[accessed 8 February 2016]

The victims are most commonly women from poor families who were subjected to violence within their families. Their documents are taken away and many times they are threatened to be killed or thrown into the Danube River where no one will find them.

Protecting the human rights of women and girls trafficked for forced prostitution in Kosovo - Summary

Amnesty International, 06/05/2004

[accessed 21 December 2010]

[accessed 24 February 2019]

In this report, Amnesty International attempts to add to the growing understanding of trafficking as an abuse of human rights, not least the right to physical and mental integrity, and of the right to life, liberty and security of the person.

The report documents abuses perpetrated against women and girls in Kosovo, including abduction, deprivation of liberty and denial of freedom of movement, often combined with other restrictions, including the withdrawal of travel or identity documents. The organization also finds that women and girls have been subjected to torture and ill-treatment, including psychological threats, beatings and rape.

Co-operation to Stop Sex Traffic

Radio Sweden, 31 August 2005

[accessed 21 December 2010]

The Swedish police have begun working with their counterparts in Kosovo to stop a gang responsible for sex trafficking.  The co-operation follows the case of a 17-year-old girl kidnapped from Kosovo and brought to Sweden and forced into prostitution.

Albanians Given 10 To 12 Years In Jail For Human Trafficking

ONASA News Agency & Agence France-Presse AFP, PRISTINA, 22 July 2005

[accessed 21 December 2010]

Singh said the investigation found out that two female victims from Albania, one of them 16 years old, "had been lured to Kosovo with false promises of legitimate work, only to find that their supposed employers were in fact intending to force them into prostitution".

13 Arrests in 10 Days on Human Trafficking Charges

OneWorldSee, 03/03/2005

[accessed 21 December 2010]

UNMIK Police Trafficking of Human Beings Section (THBS) has arrested 13 persons on Human Trafficking charges in the past ten days. Based on checks, surveillance and intelligence-led operations, the investigative teams were able to rescue four female victims, one in Prishtinë/Pristina, two in Gjilan/Gnjilane and one in Prizren Region and take into custody these 13 persons involved in the trafficking.

In one case, after being forced into prostitution, the rescued victim had also been sold for marriage: 4 suspects involved in the case were arrested. In another case, the victim had been forced into prostitution by her boyfriend who brutally abused her.

Human Trafficking Trial in Bijelo Polje

OneWorldSee, 30/03/2005

[accessed 21 December 2010]

The prosecution, represented by the Deputy State Prosecutor Lepa Medenica, accused Licina of holding forcibly Milica Novakovic from Pozega at his “Montenegro” Bar in Rozaje, and forced her into prostitution. Milica Novakovic was brought to Licina by Petrovic and Cubrakovic, under the false pretext that she would be employed as a waitress.

Balkans Urged To Curb Trafficking

Imogen Foulkes, BBC News, Geneva, 31 March 2005

[accessed 21 December 2010]

Countries in South-East Europe are failing to take effective measures against people trafficking, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) says.  A UNICEF report says that while countries in the region have strict anti-trafficking laws they do not tackle the root causes of the problem.

Initiative to Help Fight Human Trafficking in Three SEE Countries

Robert Herschbach for Southeast European Times – 05/04/05

[accessed 21 December 2010]

Bulgaria, Croatia and Serbia-Montenegro are located in a pivotal zone between poorer countries to the east and the affluent nations of the EU, and function as transit points.  Anti-trafficking efforts in Serbia have run into continuing problems with inadequate witness protection and police corruption, and penalties remain light, the State Department found.  Montenegro, meanwhile, was the site of a major scandal in 2004 involving allegations of high-level complicity in the sex trade.

For Sale Age 3

Graham Johnson, 25 January 2004

[accessed 21 December 2010]

[scroll down]

The children, some as young as three, are snatched from their parents and sold for as little as £300. Some are feared to have been taken as child sex slaves. Others are put up for illegal adoptions by couples, including Britons, desperate to start a family.  These three youngsters all live at a former United Nations refugee camp in Montenegro, part of the old Yugoslavia.

Government officials in sex trafficking ring arrested

Vesna Peric Zimonjic, London Independent, 12/06/2002

[accessed 21 December 2010]

[accessed 24 February 2019]

The arrests are only a small part of the scandal, according to sources in the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica. It is an open secret in the Balkans that people-trafficking rings run through Montenegro to Bosnia and Kosovo, with profits from the dirty trade reaching millions of euros.

The sex-slave routes lead to Italy and Britain, where at least 1,400 women, mainly from eastern Europe, are tricked into prostitution each year. The trade is highly lucrative for the men who "own" them; in London, women can bring in about £100,000 a year for their pimps.

Trafficking in Human Beings in Southeastern Europe [PDF]

Barbara Limanowska, Stability Pact Task Force on Trafficking in Human Beings, UNICEF, June 2002

[accessed 29 August 2014]

[accessed 16 June 2017]

[page 78]  1.2. TRAFFICKING OF CHILDREN - Practically no information exists on the trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children.  There are some reports that Roma girls and children from FRY are sold to Italy for the sex industry and for begging.

About 30 Cases of People Traffkicking Reported in Serbia since April 2003

Tanjug News Agency, BELGRADE, August 3, 2004

[accessed 21 December 2010]

The campaign against the trafficking of children was initiated six month ago by non-governmental organization Beosupport (Belgrade support to exploited children and young people), and the inter-governmental International Organization for Migrations. According to research carried out in Serbia by Beosupport among young people between the ages 16 and 26, the problem of people trafficking is generally defined as voluntary prostitution, while illegal labor and begging are rarely mentioned.

"So does it mean that we have the rights?" Protecting the human rights of women and girls trafficked for forced prostitution in Kosovo

Amnesty International, 6 May 2004

[accessed 25 April 2012]

[accessed 24 February 2019]

Since the deployment in July 1999 of an international peacekeeping force (KFOR) and the establishment of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) civilian administration, Kosovo(6) has become a major destination country for women and girls trafficked into forced prostitution. Women are trafficked into Kosovo predominantly from Moldova, Bulgaria and Ukraine, the majority of them via Serbia. At the same time, increasing numbers of local women and girls are being internally trafficked, and trafficked out of Kosovo.

Facts and figures on trafficking of women and girls for forced prostitution in Kosovo

Amnesty International, Media Briefing, 6 May 2004

[accessed 8 February 2016]

In 2002, it was reported that 36 percent of the trafficked women and girls in Kosovo were denied any medical care, while only ten percent were provided with regular health care; the majority of trafficked women were forced to have unprotected sex.  To date, no trafficked women or girls have obtained reparations for the physical, emotional and psychological damage they have suffered as a result of these abuses of their human rights.

UN Kosovo police arrested for sex trafficking

Ekrem Krasniqi in Brussels, ISN Security Watch, 01/09/05

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here] 

[accessed 11 September 2011]

In the meantime, Amnesty International (AI) says the presence of international peacekeepers in Kosovo has been fuelling the sexual exploitation of women and encouraging trafficking.  The human rights group claims that UN and NATO troops in the region are using the trafficked women and girls for sex, and that some have been involved in trafficking itself.  Girls as young as 11 from Eastern European countries are being sold into sex slavery, according to Amnesty International.

The group’s 2004 yearly report - based on interviews with women and girls who have been trafficked from countries such as Moldova, Bulgaria, and Ukraine to service Kosovo’s sex industry - says that sex victims are moved illegally across borders and sold in “trading houses” where they are sometimes drugged and “broken in” before being sold from one trafficker to another for prices ranging from €50 to €3,500.

Montenegro: Little political will to curb trafficking and corruption

Civilitas Research, 09 January 2003

[access date unavailable]

However, the main difficulty in dealing with the issue is the involvement of many senior officials who are supposed to curtail illegal activities in the first place. This high level involvement often serves to deter those officials who would otherwise be willing to take a stronger stand.

Sex Slavery Scandal Rattles Montenegro

Associated Press AP,  Podgorica, July 8 2003

[accessed 21 December 2010]

[accessed 24 February 2019]

Svetlana has a secret -- one so dark and lurid, it has scandalized this usually unflappable corner of the Balkans.  It's not the story of how she ended up in sexual slavery after being lured to Montenegro with the promise of a decent job.  Nor is it the agonizing tale of how she was locked up in a brothel for three years and toyed with by clients who abused her so savagely they broke bones and scarred her genitals with cigarette burns.  Svetlana's unsettling secret is the identities of those clients -- a damning account she gave police that implicated prominent Montenegrin officials in the sex trade.


Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 11 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – Underage girls were among those trafficked for sexual exploitation. In November authorities rescued a 14-year-old girl at the Slovenian border from an international trafficking ring attempting to take her to the Netherlands for work and sexual exploitation. Her family in Prokuplje had sold her for $3,600 (3 thousand euros); the parents stated they thought their daughter would be staying with an aunt and attending school in the Netherlands. Two Croatians and two citizens of the Netherlands were arrested for trafficking the girl.

While Serbia was not traditionally a major source for trafficked women, poor economic conditions have increased women's vulnerability to traffickers, particularly in the Romani community. Trafficking of children by Roma for use in begging or theft rings was a problem.

Traffickers recruited victims through enticements including advertisements for escorts, marriage offers, and offers of employment. Women often went to work as prostitutes knowingly and only later became trafficking victims. In many cases international organized crime networks recruited, transported, sold, and controlled victims. The main points in Serbia for holding and transferring trafficked women were the Belgrade suburbs and Pancevo.

Freedom House Country Report - Serbia

2018 Edition

[accessed 6 May 2020]


Residents generally have access to economic opportunity, but factors such as weak macroeconomic growth and a relatively high rate of unemployment contribute to labor exploitation in some industries. Several reports in recent years have described poor conditions in factories, including low wages, unpaid overtime, and a hazardous working environment. Legal protections designed to prevent such abuses are not well enforced.

Freedom House Country Report - Montenegro

2018 Edition

[accessed 6 May 2020]


Most workers employed in the private sector remain unprotected from exploitation and arbitrary decisions of their employers.

Trafficking in persons for the purposes of prostitution and forced labor remains a problem, and the government has reduced efforts to prosecute traffickers and aid victims, according to the U.S. State Department’s 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report.

Freedom House Country Report - Kosovo

2019 Edition

[accessed 6 May 2020]

Equal opportunity is inhibited by persistently high levels of unemployment. Kosovo is a source, transit point, and destination for human trafficking, and corruption within the government enables perpetrators. Children are at particular risk of exploitation by traffickers, who can force them to beg or engage in sex work.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery – Serbia-Montenegro",, [accessed <date>]